Music

BW gets mouthy with Jared Swilley of The Black Lips

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Is it me, or does it just seem like Atlanta is the new Detroit of the south? It's big, it has no jobs and it's full of crime and generally seems like a place where nobody wants to live. Like Detroit though, Atlanta sure can produce some damn fine musicians including Georgia's own psychedelic/doo-wop punk pioneers, The Black Lips. The Black Lips were formed about nine years ago by guitarist Ben Eberbaugh. Original members include guitarist Cole Alexander, bassist Jared Swilley and drummer Joe Bradley. They had just released their first 7-inch in 2002 and had planned to tour just after the release. Unfortunately, Ederbaugh was tragically killed by a drunk driver only few days before the tour was to begin. The band kept it together and replaced Ederbaugh with Ian Saint Pe.

Boise Weekly caught up with singer/bassist Jared Swilley of the five-man debauched band as they rolled through town and lit up the Neurolux on April 23 while touring with their new album 200 Million Thousand.

Boise Weekly: Is this the first time you've played in the oasis known as Boise, Idaho?

Jared Swilley: Yeah, this is our first time. I think this is the first time I've ever stepped out of the car. I think I've driven through Idaho before? But, this is the first time I've gotten out of the car before.

Were you guys "bad kids" back in the day?

We definitely were. I mean a few of us were expelled from school but I never thought I was bad. Like, we never did anything malicious. We were not bad, and everyone out there it seems has a different definition of "bad." Like, we never maliciously hurt anyone. I mean, I got kicked out of school for smoking or like dumb stuff like that. In their eyes, I guess I was a bad kid.

How many supermodels, male or female, has the band slept with collectively?

(Looks at me strangely.) Um, I think there's only been one.

One?

Yeah, one.

Alright, fair enough. Tell me about the Swilley family.

The Swilley family was a gospel group in the late '60s and '70s. They put out a lot of records on an Atlanta label called The Better Sound. Almost all the gospel music came out of Georgia—at least all commercial stuff, that is. It's kind of funny because it was two of my uncles and my great aunt and their son. (Swilley lists a long family tree.) Yeah, they all are preachers. And they all live next to each other on the same street and own about 10 houses.

Hmm. Interesting. I don't think I can scribe all the names you just threw out there, but it sounds legit. What would you do if your new record 200 Million Thousand actually sold more than 200 million thousand copies? Do you think you would be more popular than maybe, Jesus?

Uh, I'd hope so. I just read an article in Time the other day about how religion is dying in America. So ... um ... well, maybe? (Laughter from all around.)

Your song "Los Valientes Del Mundo Nuevo," was that really recorded in a Tijuana bar? {Some critics dispute the authenticity of that claim.}

Yeah, it was on Revolution Boulevard at some kind of events facility. The type of place people rent out for birthdays and weddings. You know, stuff like that.

It is in fact true then?

Yeah, yeah! It's all on tape at the Vice TV Web site. It was a rad show!

How did you guys end up on Vice Records?

We would play New York like three or four times a month. We would just drive up there all the time. We started to play in Brooklyn a lot, so everyone knew us and started coming to our shows. Then after one show, they asked us if we wanted to do a festival in Norway. We said yes and then went over to get some reindeer steaks. They then asked us if we wanted to do a record and sign with them and we said, "Yes!"

Nice. Would you say Israel is a place every band should play in their careers?

Yeah. (Pauses.) I mean, I would recommend it. They have a really huge scene there. Kids are really into music there and they're starved for it. It is also easy to tour there because every town is like an hour from each other.

Alright, I'm going to ask you about other bands that use the word "black" in their names and you just tell me the first thing that comes to mind.

Ok.

Black Eyed Peas?

Crystal meth.

Black Flag?

Rad times.

The Black Keys?

White boys.

Blackalicious?

I don't know who that is.

The Black Crowes?

Hometown ... boy? Eh, they're from Atlanta.

They're from Atlanta?

Yep.

Wow. No shit. (Pause.) Have you guys ever thought about covering the song "Der Kommissar?" You know the one: (I sing) "Don't turn around UH-OH! Der Kommissar is in town UH OH!"

(Smiles and shakes his head.) No.

I really think you guys could pull it off. (Everyone laughs.)

Nah man, I don't think so.

Any parting words for the 200 million thousand or so here in Boise that might read this?

Don't listen to anything a grown up says, and never give up!

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